Firstly, a confession. Somewhere between my aunt’s house in London and my house in Sydney, my notebook with all my gin notes from my trip to Europe went missing. Hence it’s been months and I still haven’t written up my gin tastings. I’ve finally accepted that the notes are gone for good and I’m going to attempt to recreate them, please forgive me if anything is a bit hazy.
On one of our days in London, the Gentleman Caller and I indulged both our geek out interests. First we headed out to Bletchley Park, where the Engima Code was broken and the first computers were built. This place is like a pilgrimage for the Gentleman Caller, but I really enjoyed it too.
Then we trained back to London and indulged my obsession with a visit to the City of London Distillery. COLD, as it is known, is the first distillery within the City of London in over 200 years. (Sipsmith opened earlier, but they are in Greater London, but not within the square mile of the City of London. It’s complicated.) Just off Fleet St, COLD is home to both the distillery and a lovely contemporary bar serving more than 180 gins.
COLD run daily distillery tours every hour between 12 noon and 3pm for £8. We spent too long at Bletchley Park and arrived too late for a tour, but I got chatting with some of the delightful staff, and Jamie Baxter, the Master Distiller, was still around and gave us a bit of an impromptu tour, which was extremely generous.
The gleaming copper still is behind glass for everyone to see and enjoy when they visit the bar. She’s a gorgeous creature (I forgot to ask her name!). The woody botanicals go in the belly of the still, but they add the fresh citrus in a basket further up in the pipes.
The base is a grain spirit which is pushed through the still a few times before the botanicals are added, the copper ‘pores’ open up and absorb all the nasty impurities out of the spirit leaving a very clean ethanol.
Given the botanicals list it will be no surprise that this is a very citrus forward gin. As we were tasting in a bar I didn’t taste in an exacting way, but it was delicious and dry and flavoursome.
We started off with a gin and tonic, served with a veritable slab of pink grapefruit, I’m not usually a big fan huge citrus wedges in a gin and tonic, but wedges of pink grapefruit seems to be the done thing in London’s finer gin drinking establishments. We followed up with a love dry martini with a twist, here the citrus really shines with lovely background of earthy base notes. Ended the evening with a French 75, again the citrus played beautifully with lemon and champagne.
WHAT OTHERS SAY
The Gin Blog
Master of Malt
Summer Fruit Cup
WHERE TO BUY
City of London Distillery Gin is not widely available in Australia. You can import it from Master of Malt or The Whisky Exchange, but as always be aware of the delivery fees.